4 Ways to Create a Branded and Authentic Style

Guest Post by @adventures.of.ang

Angie Felt is a tell-it-like-it-is wellness and travel blogger with a major thing for pink. You can learn more about her and check out her other blog posts here. And make sure to follow her on Instagram. 

Today, I want to talk about the importance of building a branded style while maintaining authenticity to grow your following and ultimately your creative business. Building your following is important because more followers equals more potential customers. Getting people to land on your profile and follow you is one thing; but keeping them around is another.

While there are many social media platforms out there, I am going to focus on the area I know best, Instagram. Instagram is a powerful tool that allows you to creatively display life through your lens and provide others with a glimpse of who you are. Instagram has become an enormous platform for creatives, bloggers, and small business owners to get more eyeballs on their content without the price tag of a billboard or ads.

If you do any research on how to grow your Instagram following, the first thing you will be encouraged to do is to brand your feed. When a person clicks to view your profile, out of the millions of profiles in this great big world, you need to make them want to follow you within two seconds. In order to make them want to follow you, you need to have a profile that catches their eye and makes them interested. Having a branded feed lets them see at a glance what to expect from your profile.

What is a Branded Feed?

A ‘branded feed’ means there is a consistency among the photos on your profile. Your feed should evoke your particular style the moment someone lands on your profile.

Here are examples of different artists and their branded feeds:

Birch.house.lettering is a calligraphy and watercolor artist profile. When I go to her feed I can expect interesting close ups of her work with a light and airy vibe.

Bysamanthajo is an artist profile filled with paintings and drawings. I can expect cool tones and plain/neutral backgrounds that make her art pop when you see it.

Thelightandthelove is a photographer profile filled with warm tones that evoke a moody and desert vibe.

With each one of these profiles, the moment I click to their feed I know exactly what to expect from them and whether their content interests me. If it’s something that interests me, then I follow. As I follow them I get to know more of who they are and their authentic personality. When I feel like I really know the person behind the profile I am going to want to continue to follow them and keep up with their content This is where the trust between a creator and a follower lights up. If I trust this creator I am more likely to not only continue to follow her but I might also purchase items she sells or products she promotes.

“I’m in, but where do I even begin?”

To help you get started I am comin’ at ya with 4 Ways to Create a Branded and Authentic Style for your Instagram.

1. PHOTO EDITING

To get your feed branded and consistent start by choosing the type of vibe and style you want to evoke. Are you drawn to dark and moody photos? Bright and light photos? Tons of color? Spend some time looking at feeds that inspire you and that you are drawn to and hone in on what makes you like them. I tend to be more drawn to light and airy feeds so when I branded my feed I wanted people to see brightly lit photos with pops of pink.

There are tons of apps out there that can be used to edit photos. I recommend choosing a photo editing software that has filters that you can apply to photos. I started by using VSCO and picked a filter that gave me bright photos. I applied that filter to every single photo I posted on Instagram. I used the exact same edits for each photo regardless of what I was posting. By doing this, consistency in color and exposure started to come through my feed. I now use the free Adobe Lightroom app to edit all of my photos. With Lightroom you need to have a ‘preset’ which is just a fancy name for a filter. There are free ones out there but I bought mine for $3 on Etsy. Again, every single photo I post goes to Lightroom for editing first before I post.

Whichever editing software you use, just ensure that you are consistent with your editing. There might be some photos that you think would look better with a different filter but you have to stay committed to help you feed be cohesive. Don’t stray!

2. CONSISTENCY

How many times can I use the word ‘consistency’ in this post? I don’t know but evidently I am going for a record. Consistency is key, people! And not just with how you edit photos. To have success you need to be consistent in all areas of your online presence. When people know what to expect from you they are going to still around.

Try to post regularly throughout the week, at the same time, if possible. A lot of articles will tell you to post every single day, and you should, if you have that much content. But don’t post just for the sake of posting something. Make sure what you are putting out there meets a certain quality standard. Often times, when I am getting ready to post something I ask myself if xyz blogger that I follow would post this to her profile? If the answer is no, then I skip it and I try to get the right shot next time.

Shooting a lot of content all at once really helps with this. Spend an hour or so taking photos of all your art individually on the same canvas sheet, for example. That way, the lighting from the time of day is consistent, the background is consistent, and now you have 200 photos of 10 pieces of art that you can continue to post over the next few weeks.

Another important thing to consider when keeping your brand cohesive across all your platforms is using the same profile picture. The profile picture you use on your Instagram should be the same one you have on your email account, website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, Tinder, your mom’s fridge magnet, EVERYTHING. If I want to find you on multiple platforms I shouldn’t have to question if I am on the right page or not because the profile photos match. Branding means you are getting people acquainted with you and your style and therefore it needs to be consistent. One more time for the folks in the back: consistent.

3. BEING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

As I said earlier, people start to follow you because they like your brand and know what you have to offer them, but you keep your followers because they like who you are. You have something to offer this world and people should know it. While there are millions of different artists out there, you are the only one that provides it through your lens. Are you funny? Use comedy in your captions or be hilarious in an Instastory video. Do you like to use your craft as a method of helping people? Show us how you use art as therapy for people with mental illness. Are you an artist AND obsessed with your cats? Talk about your cats and why they are the best cats ever because they inspire your art. Show us what makes you, you.

It took me a long time to find my voice on my blog and social media. And something I am still working on. I look back at blog posts I did from three years ago and cringe a little bit because it is so obviously not me talking. I mean it was me who wrote it, yeah, but it sounded like a robot rather than a sassy social butterfly who likes a good dad joke. Think about the characteristics that make your friends like you and include those characteristics as you write and post.

Someone once told me that they think I crank out good content but that they still don’t know who I am. They suggested that when I write or post a talking video that I pretend that I am only sending it to my best friend. How does that change what you post?

4. GRAPHICS

This piggy backs off of my above lecture about consistency. Sorry. But if you are going to have the same profile photo across all of your platforms you need to have consistency with the other graphics and images that your followers will see, too. As you might have noticed, I have a thing for pink. And you know what? My followers know that. I try to wear something pink when I know that I am going to be in photos for my Instagram. But it doesn’t stop there! If I post a pic of my dogs in my Instastories the text that says how stinkin’ adorable they are is pink. When I promote a new blog post to my Instastories, the custom graphics I have are pink. When people click to check out the latest blog post they will see that my blog header is pink, the accent color on my site is pink, and the graphics within the post are pink. BRANDING people.

You don’t need to stick with a single color like I do. As long as your followers can recognize that it’s your work because of your consistent branding. Maybe you always do the same chevron pattern on your graphics. Or maybe you like to use a little fig leaf on everything. Pick something that makes your graphics a little different and use it all the time.

If you aren’t sure where to get started with graphics I highly recommend Canva. They have an app or you can use their website. They have templates for blog graphics, Pinterest, Instagram, business cards, and more. I personally use Adobe Illustrator because I have a graphic design background but you don’t need a fancy dancy program like that to create quality graphics.

If graphic design isn’t your thing, I am happy to help create blog graphics, Instastory highlight covers, pins, and more! Drop me a line and I would be happy to work with you on your individual needs.

***

I hope these tips help you get started with building your online brand and staying authentic to your true self. While loads of people are going to love what you create and put out into the world, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is going to be drawn to it. And that’s okay! You are creating content for a special niche, not for everyone. Because if you are posting for everyone your posting for no one.

-Ang


You can contact Ang with questions or graphic design consultation at askingang@adventuresofang.com

Further Reading:

How to Critique Art

Put aside judgement and evaluate the basics.

Art critiques. In art school, they are a pain. Students awkwardly stand in front of the class and explain what they’ve done with their latest work of art. Then the instructor asks the rest of the class to offer critiques that the student may or may not want to hear. Few enjoy the process when forced, but in the professional world, critiques are a beneficial tool to help artists grow and refine their skills.

Now, the critique process doesn’t come naturally to most people. It’s tempting to simply say that you like what an artist has done, but this isn’t a critique. It’s important to understand the purpose of a critique session, and the basic dos and don’ts.

Judgment vs. Critique

First, keep in mind that criticism in a critique session is not the same as judgment of the final product.

A critique session is not meant to establish if your work is good or bad. Varying labels of “good” or “bad” have no place in a critique session for these are judgments. Critiques, on the other hand, allow artists to get an outside perspective of their work’s many layers. Sometimes we are too close to our work, and we need someone to pull us back and shift our perspective. During a critique, your art is dissected and examined according to basic principles and elements of art making.

Never in a critique should anyone say: “I like this,” “I don’t like this” “It looks good,” or “It looks bad.” Instead, a viewer needs to dive further.

Why DO you like it? Is it balanced? Is it symmetrical?

Why DON’T you like it? Poorly executed? Cliché subject matter?

“I like it!” or “This sucks!” are not critiques. Critiques involve exploration of the following:

1. Technical assessment

When you create a piece of art, you use basic principles and elements of design. No matter what, whether you are conscious of it or not, you implement the concepts below.

During a critique session, viewers should evaluate a piece of art based on the these concepts:

The basic principles of design include:
  1. Balance- symmetry, asymmetry, where the piece is weighted
  2. Proportion- how the size of forms compare to one another in the piece
  3. Emphasis- which elements are highlighted; the focal point(s)
  4. Variety- the use of different elements to create visual diversity
  5. Movement- the path the viewer’s eyes follow (or don’t follow)
  6. Rhythm- the flow/movement created by repeated elements
  7. Harmony- how visual elements play together on the piece
Basic elements of art include:
  1. Line- the marks/strokes between two points
  2. Shape- 2D enclosed areas
  3. Form- 3D shapes; perceived volume of shapes
  4. Color- hue, saturation, purity; general use of color
  5. Space- background, foreground, middle ground; negative space vs positive space
  6. Texture- how something feels or appears to feel
  7. Value- degree of lightness to darkness; contrast

2. IntentIon

Often, I see artists get upset over feedback they receive about their art when it is clear the viewer has absolutely no idea of the artist’s intention for creating the piece.

During a critique the artist and the viewer should discuss the intention of the art and then compare and contrast that with the principles of art and design above.

For example, if an artist’s intention was to create a dramatic human scene, like Baroque artists from the 1600s who used dark values in the background and deep rich colors, but the artist instead used pastel colors and only midtones–this would be a really good thing to call to the artist’s attention.

If you are an artist seeking a critique, let your viewers know your intentions with your art and the kind of feedback you are looking for. Also, let the viewer know if you are stuck on any area.

3. Skill and execution

When our intention doesn’t match our execution of the elements above, critique sessions are beneficial to help get an artist on the right track. Skill and execution are touchier subjects to discuss in a critique, because a beginner artist may not want to hear “you poorly executed your shape and value here”.

When discussing skill and execution, always approach them as areas to improve upon. Again, critiques should never be a judgment of the artist’s work or skills. A critic should never say something like “You suck at making faces.” Instead, they can say things like “Your proportions are off. Your symmetry could use some work.”

Artists need to be okay hearing critiques that assess skill, as this is how we grow and decide which areas we need to practice. Now, if your intention was to make an asymmetrical and oddly proportioned face, then assessment of the technical execution doesn’t need to be covered (which is why it’s nice to let your viewer know your intention first).

4. The message and meaning

What is the artist trying to say? Is this message effective? How does the art make you feel? Is there symbolism?

The message and the meaning behind a piece of art can matter just as much or more than the execution of technical principles. During a critique, artists can ask the viewers general questions to see how their work is being interpreted. If the artist has a specific message they want to convey, they can use the critiques to refine the message.

***

Okay, now that you know the basics of an art critique, keep the following in mind:

Not Everyone Knows How to Critique Art

In my experience, everybody thinks they are a critic, but not everyone knows how to critique. If you want someone to help you dissect your artwork, don’t pick just anybody. Random people on the internet should not be trusted immediately. I caution you against posting your work on Instagram with any broad caption relating to “What do you think of this?”

Choose a critiquing partner wisely. Find someone who understands the basic art elements and principles above. Maybe even show them this post. Or, if you do resort to soliciting advice from anyone online, make sure to ask for very specific feedback and find a platform with like-minded people. I’ve actually seen some really valuable critiquing happening on art subReddits.

The Danger of Personal Opinions during critiques

I want to make it very clear that not everyone will like your art or agree with where you are taking your work. If you aim to make your art look cluttered and chaotic, it’s very likely that someone will say they don’t like your art, because it is in fact cluttered and chaotic. If you are working with a critiquing partner who knows how to withhold judgment, this won’t be an issue, but as I said before, a lot of people have no idea how to responsibly and productively critique art.

Which is why it’s important to always create according to your vision. Don’t try to cater to the people around you (unless they are paying you for your work). You as the creator need to understand why you do what you do so that you can stay true to your art as you get outside comments, critiques, and judgments.

***


Critique sessions can be really beneficial for artists at any level. And they can be especially beneficial if you ever find yourself feeling stuck on a piece in progress.

I know that it can be hard to find a critique partner that can be trusted, so in case you really need someone to help you, I offer 30 minute critique consulting sessions for artists of any level through my consulting services. Check out my consulting page for more details.

I hope you found that helpful! Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! And make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every Tuesday.

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

How to Reclaim and Protect Your Creativity

Have you ever had your creative spirit crushed?

Some might say that I am too sensitive. Over the years, I have struggled with receiving criticism from others in any creative endeavor, because at times even a hint of “you’re doing it wrong,” can make me crumble into a pile of colored pencil shavings.

I’ve met people who are tough. Nothing seems to disrupt their confidence. Someone could tell scream “Your art sucks and you are failing at everything!” and they’d just brush it off and carry on with life. It would be awesome to start out tough and confident, but some of us just aren’t wired that way. Though, don’t worry. There are ways we sensitive flowers can build our own sanguine security.

When I was taking art courses in college, I felt my creative energy drain away as I butted heads with instructors and classmates. Everyone had their own opinions on what art should be, how it should be made, who it’s made for, and even if what I was doing was in fact art. It’s important to engage in critiques, ask questions, and figure out what drives you as an artist–but I found that the majority of my interactions in the arts community were making me feel small and inadequate. I began to lose my drive to create, because I allowed opinions from the outside world to pollute my creative spirit. I needed to do some internal work to build my resilience.

I know I’m not the only one who has been through this and I want to share a few tips that I have used over the years to reclaim my creativity and how I currently protect it today.

How to reclaim and protect your creativity

1. Define your intention and reason for creating.

This is the first place every creative person should start when they want to share their art with the world.

Anytime you make something and show it to another human, you will hear opinions, complaints, critiques, or questions about your work. Some people will like it, some people will hate it, some people won’t care, some people will tell you to make it into a career, some may tell you never quit your day job. If you are sensitive to this sort of thing, the best way to protect yourself from negative feedback or even to prevent your ego from over-inflating from positive feedback is to define why you do what you do.

Why do you make art?

Do you create for fun? Do you create to make a statement, to upset people, to comfort people, as therapy for yourself, as a means to capture beauty? Whatever your reason, put it down on paper.

Then, if someone shares their opinion/critique/commentary or whatever, you can hold it up against your original intention and reason for creating. As long as you are satisfying your original intention, then outside opinions don’t really matter.

I have had quite a few people leave comments telling me to try doing something different with my art. Past me would have interpreted these comments as “They are tired of what I am doing and I should feel bad because I didn’t please this random person and maybe I should try doing something different like they said.”

Current me is like “Nah. I did what I set out to do and I’m going to keep doing that.”

Defining your intention for creating and holding true to it builds your confidence and helps protect your creative energy.

2. Don’t waste energy defending why you do what you if being judged (rather than critiqued).

In academic settings, the art critique process involves a lot of explanation of what you did with your art. You can find yourself ‘defending’ your choices. Which, is a great exercise to teach you awareness of your own choices and art process, BUT this is an exhausting practice if you feel like your creativity is being judged rather than ‘critiqued’. There is a big difference.

If you ever find your art being assessed as “bad” or if someone is simply saying “I don’t like this,” don’t waste your time or energy trying to convince them why it’s not bad and why they should like it. As an artist, your energy should be spent on the actual creative process. If you waste your time defending your work, you’re not protecting your creativity.

Thank that person for their opinion and move on.

3. Always, always, always remember, it does not matter if your work is “good” or “bad”. Don’t leave room for internal judgment.

I used to be really critical of my work. This would leave me feeling frustrated and defeated when I would try to create, because I wasted a lot of time in the middle of creating worrying about my work looking bad. I polluted my own creative process with judgmental thoughts. Once you release your creations of judgment, your creative spirit can fly free.

There is no place for judgment while creating. Even when you are finished with a piece, don’t allow yourself to stop and judge. Move onto the next work of art. Take notes of what you want to try improving upon, and apply that to the next piece. Do not sit back and tell yourself your work sucks.

Few things have killed my creativity more than staring at a piece I didn’t like and ruminating on how terrible I am as an artist. The best thing you can do is to keep your creative momentum moving forward. Don’t judge. Just make things.

4. Only accept criticism from select people.

There will always be people who will dislike your art. It’s a fact that you can’t please everyone. You won’t be able to prevent negative comments about your creations (especially once your work reaches a larger audience), but if you make a decision in your mind to only accept and internalize the criticism from trusted sources, you can protect your creativity more easily.

This means you have the authority to ignore any and all negative comments from strangers on the internet. You have no idea who they are, their personal preferences, their experience in the art world, or if they know your drive as an artist. Don’t let a 12 year old on Instagram convince you your art sucks.

Opinions are not facts, and people are far to generous with their criticisms. I assure you, that not every critique should be given attention. Take criticism from the people within your field that you respect or the people who have reached a level you want to reach. Criticism is beneficial when it helps move you closer to your goals.

5. Find a trusted art partner with positive energy.

We could all use a cheerleader for what we do.

The creative process requires that we be vulnerable. When we are at our most vulnerable, negative comments can be incredibly crushing. Finding one person or a couple of people to share your creative process with who understand you, your art, your intentions for creating and have empathy can work wonders for your creative spirit.

Do not show your work to people who are consistently negative or hard to please, or at least don’t listen to their judgment and opinions. You don’t need to win over anybody’s approval when you are within the creative process. You need to nurture your creative energy and convince yourself to just keep going. Having trusted and like-minded people in your inner circle can give your creative spirit a boost.

I also want to say that it doesn’t matter if someone is ‘lying’ and they tell you your work looks good when they personally don’t like it. The important thing is that you have a support system that encourages you to keep creating.

If you don’t have someone in your life like that right now, read this:

Don’t stop what you are doing. If your creativity brings you joy, then make whatever it tells you to make. If someone said something discouraging, it’s okay! Just check in with yourself. Are you pleased with the process? Do you like what you’ve created? I promise you will find others who will enjoy what you are doing. And maybe what you are doing is just for you. That’s okay too! You don’t need to share your art with others. Sometimes our art can act like a private diary that’s meant only for the creator.

Whatever negative comments or experiences are burned in your memory that prevent you from creating, I give you permission to let them go. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure that comes from embracing your creative urges. Keep painting, drawing, knitting, sculpting, or doodling on the margins of your notes in class. It doesn’t matter if the end result wins awards or earns you money. It’s all in the process.

Go get messy and show us the art that fulfills you.

***

And that’s my little pep talk! Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! And make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every Tuesday.

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading: